Monday, May 28, 2012

Top 5 Questions Students Ask Me

No matter if I am subbing for an afternoon, a whole day, or an extended stay, not a day goes by that I don't hear these questions. I have gotten to where I have some fairly standard responses to them.

1. Where is Ms. So-and-So? There is always a student who wants to know where their regular teacher is. Most of the time I don't even know the answer to that question, but even if I do, I don't usually want to tell them the real answer. So I use a humorous response to that one. Depending on the grade level, I might say things like: she's visiting Candyland today; she's spending the whole day doing nothing but eating cotton candy; she's auditioning for American Idol... anything crazily outlandish, and the sillier the better. Sometimes the students even get a kick out of trying to figure out if I am kidding or not.

2. What time is recess/lunch/specials? It doesn't seem to matter whether it's kindergarten or fifth grade, someone always asks about times for standard parts of the schedule. In that case, I always have the same response. "It's the same time it's been all year." I know, it's sarcastic. But I always follow it up with a correct response.

3. Is this for a grade? Always, always, always, I tell them it is for a grade. They just don't put in any effort otherwise (which is sad, but that is another story). Most of the time the students can tell whether it's busy work or not, but I always have them turn in every assignment left for them and tell them it will be graded.

4. Can we use marker? Oh my, how those elementary kiddos love their markers! It makes them positively giddy if you say yes to that question. If it's something I know is a graded assignment, I ask what the normal rule is in the classroom. If it's something I know is enrichment or extra practice, I might say yes just to make them happy.

5. Can we work in partners? Many of the classrooms I sub in use cooperative learning in some way and allow the students to work on some things in partners or groups. Again, I always answer a question with a question and ask what the regular rule is in the classroom. Sometimes it is specified on the lesson plans, but if it's not, then I use discretion, and again, if possible, I try to allow them to do it. The more you can legitimately say yes (never say yes just to please the students), the easier your day will go.

I have gotten a slew of crazy questions too, but it never fails that these pop up at some time during each day. What regular questions do you get?


  1. You are nicer than I am regarding the "what time is recess/specials/lunch" question. I usually just look at them. (Of course, I have been working with these same 250 kids since kindergarten, and most of them look on me as the extra teacher in the building. I am there almost every day.
    No Marker. Always Grading. Teacher took a break from you guys for the day (5th graders) or Teacher is sick today, or just "I don't know." Partners only if teacher says they can, and then usually only after they can prove to me that they can work quietly alone for a while.
    I also get asked what my real name is because they all know me as "Ms. B." They all know the real name, but still have to ask

  2. Oh, and I am sorry but the two I love "Are you a REAL teacher?" (meaning certified) and "Why aren't you a real teacher?" (meaning in this case why don't I have a classroom.) I tell them that I am a real teacher. I ask them if they are learning with me, and if I am teaching them things. That makes me a teacher :)

  3. I get those above and the "real teacher" thing too like Ms. B. said. I also get the whole "Are you married, do you have pets, brothers/sister....etc."

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

  4. I feel for you on the recess question! I occasionally hear "do we have to do this in French?", yeah, French class!

    Mme Aiello

  5. I get the partners question a lot. Luckily a lot of the teachers I sub say specifically if work is to be done independently or in groups. I get a lot of personal questions too (I work with Middle Schoolers). I get the "Are you a new student?" "Are you in High School?" every now and then too.


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